In 2016, daycare administrations in Idaho were highly alarmed when a group of toddlers awoke from a nap with dilated pupils.
As KTVB reported, what first responders considered to be a lesson in the need for carbon monoxide detectors, parents might see as an important story about the scents and smells their children are exposed to.
The manager of Our Kids Daycare, Robin Hagaman, told first responders that 12 toddlers had gone down for a nap around 11:30 a.m. After the children woke up, teachers noticed the children’s pupils were huge.
Hagaman told KTVB she immediately removed the kids from the room:
“And so I came in and I checked them and I’m like okay they’re all dilated. You need to get them out of here, we moved them to the other end of the building.”
Hagaman explained she opened the doors to the room for ventilation; by this point, however, multiple children and adults were having reactions. The children in the room had become hyperactive and “crashed.” Simultaneously, the two teachers complained of headaches and nausea.
Hagaman called first responders believing teachers and students had fallen ill due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Middleton Fire Department officials, however, were unable to detect any carbon monoxide levels. According to WHBQ-TV, emergency crews suspected the source of illness was an essential oil diffuser that had been running during the children’s nap time.
Hagaman admitted the diffuser was being used to help freshen the air and eliminate any viruses in the room. As she explained to KTVB:
“We’ve got some essential oils to kind of help with the different smells in the room of toddlers and to help with the viruses that are going around and stuff. We had it up here on top of the little shelf, and it was going pretty steady.”
Hagaman said first responders believed too much of a cinnamon essential oil had been placed into the diffuser at one time:
“They’re thinking that it had no place to go and so it just built up, and built up, and built up, They’re thinking we may have put too many drops in it and ran it too long.”
According to KPRC-TV, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) claimed 11,467 pediatric exposures to essential oils were reported to poison-control centers in 2015. The most commonly cited oils were tea tree, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and clove.
Dr. Spencer Greene, Texas Children’s Hospital director of medical toxicology and assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine told the outlet:
“Many [essential oils] have been associated with all sorts of toxicity both acutely, chronically, and in some cases interaction with other drugs. Some of the worst results are seizures and death.”
Just months ago, as Dearly reported, Jessica Landim issued a dire warning for parents after her toddler managed to ingest camphor oil placed next to the mother’s bedside. After nine days in intensive care, the 11-month-old passed away.
The National Capital Poison Center states on its website:
Many people think essential oils are harmless because they are natural and have been used for a long time. In some cases, that is simply not true.
The center added:
Children, with their thin skin and immature livers, might be more susceptible to toxic effects than adults.
Using Essential Oils Safely suggests no essential oil be used on or around children under 6 months of age. Up to 2 years of age, child-safe oils may be diffused for short periods of time, as the website states: “Children are particularly sensitive to aroma and products applied to the skin.”
As for the toddlers at the Idaho daycare, they were reunited with their parents shortly after the incident. Hagaman described the experience to KTVB as a “lesson learned”:
“So lesson learned and we’re going on from there,” she said.